tv Gordon Wood Friends Divided CSPAN January 20, 2018 8:01am-9:01am EST
that is just a handful of the programs airing this weekend on book tv for a complete schedule visit our website. now we kick off this weekend who recounts the tumultuous friendship between john adams and thomas jefferson. good evening ladies and gentlemen. welcome to the river very exciting and wonderful speaker tonight.
doug will tell you more about him in a minute. i'm here to tell you if you have a cell phone turn it off and if you brought food or drink into the library please take it out with you when you go. thank you, it's always a great honor to introduce the group of historians. it was the first building to have built specifically as a library anywhere in the colonies. the dean dean of american historians this is just my description if you buy his latest book.
current administration's particular critics. the growth industry if there ever was one. he wrote, as the dean of american historians he has long shaped the historians. joseph ellis who also won the national book award he commented the dialogue with the competing impulses had its origins gordon wood brings his unmatched knowledge to the test ever covering both sides of what is still the long-standing argument with itself. how does one rise from professor to become an unelected dean of historians.
it helps to have written 17 groundbreaking books. during nearly a half-century writing career. as well as a national book award nomination. it surely didn't hurt. the national humanities medal in 20111 of the few actions and in no danger of being reversed. but having known gordon for a while now. i think there is another reason for his title. the unfeeling good nature and kindness to others in optimism
about the future. he will take this based on the study of the past in a most welcome sentiment in the turbulent times. without further ado let us welcome gordon wood. thank you for the generous introduction. as you pointed out this is a story of two patriots that we know very well died on the same day july 4 exactly 50 years after the declaration of independence. it was the jubilee celebration it was such a marvelous coincidence to people at the time that the nation took it
to be and they couldn't help but believe that this providence was looking after the nation. this coincidence i think has linked the two men ever after. they have differed greatly. until recently thomas jefferson has dominated our historical memory and we are asking ourselves whether a jefferson still survives or what is still living in the thought of jefferson. no figure in our past has embodied so much of our heritage and so many of our hopes.
as much as the professional bagger for if jefferson was wrong america is wrong. if america is right jefferson was right. no one says that about john adams. until recently. few americans paid much attention. they have different degrees of affection as founders in our conscious consciousness. devoted to every aspect of the wide ranging life. it has become a world heritage site visited by hundreds of
thousands of people from all over the world the modest home in quincy messages is maintained within matt national parks service it's hard to get to and receives only a small fraction of the numbers ago to monticello. many of you probably had been there. adams has no monument in the capital and those who would like to erect one had struggled unsuccessfully for nearly two decades in 1776 no american could have predicted that the reputations were so diverge. more celebrated than jefferson. nobody had contributed more.
they shared the passion for american rights and american independence. they bonded immediately and became good friends. then the french revolution broke out. they strained their relationship. in 1796 vice president adams succeeded washington as president they assumed like he like washington would be elected to a second term. after a very bitter campaign in 1800. they feuded for the presidency. adams was humiliated. and the break between the two former friends so angry and so bitter if used -- refused to
attend. 4:00 a.m. the date that they were and not graded. the only president that has ever done that. i think it's amazing and that that the two men became friends they have a lot in common. there were both members of the continental congress. both were members ministers abroad. and no doubt they agreed on the rightness of that. i think the thing that really makes them come together is that both of them have a bit of hatred for alexander hamilton. despite all that the two patriot leaders were very different from one another.
i think they were divided on every fundamental way. in temperament and their ideas of government and their assumptions about human nature and their notions of society and their attitudes towards religion. and in their conception of america. every single thing that mattered they differed from one another. of course they were physically very different. tall and reddish blond hair. he brought everyone he met i
presiding in his chair clay said they could not help thinking of him monkey just put into bridges. there's no doubt that he could appear ridiculous but that was never true of jefferson. no one made front of them the dignity that adams lacked. perfect self-control and serenity of spirit. adams temperament could not had been more different. he have no serenity of spirit whatsoever. and to the great regret he
lacked what he called the gift of silence something possessed by both jefferson and washington. adams was always on his feet. arguing, debating, jefferson rarely said anything publicly. he was far more effective in small groups. treating even his enemies with grace and courtesy to their face. the extreme politeness is acute sensitivity to the feelings of others and keen desire. i think it was the secret of much of his success. the good human behavior to people. he was always open to accusations of duplicity.
they have little of jefferson's restraints. the men and consequences of a bold assertion of opinion and all of his speeches. and he used it often. he have the nerve to publicly take on what he called the veneration. he was not taken with some -- with politeness. he was a stranger to dissimulation jefferson was
the sole suggestion. they found them utterly likable. the qualities do not work while in public. they never quite learned to tailor his remarks in the way jefferson did. the two men had even more fundamental differences. in the hierarchal society. land and slave from his father. one of the rest -- wealthiest planners.
busiest lawyer in the colony of massachusetts. the most respected in the colony for the depth of his legal entities historical knowledge. most of his wealth such as it was was acquired from his law practice. the wealthiest members. their political differences. a radical 18th century 18th century style liberal who was extreme in his political views. especially the federal government. convinced that people were nationally sociable. it's hard to first understand.
his government would be the smallest possible. without a military establishment. and without all of the other coercive points of power. under jefferson's administrations. you are living under that administration. it was only the delivery -- the delivery of the mail. but there was a federal government at all. like most liberals at the time. they refer to themselves as liberals jefferson had a magnum in this view.
he believed literally and that's important to understand that all men are created equal. all white men. but others shared that view. i think it is still widely shared by most americans. and the obvious differences among individuals that they were well aware of were due to the effects of the invite environment. the way that they were raised and developed. i think for most americans at the time nurture not nature was all-important. most americans today and throughout most of her history they put an enormous emphasis on education. it became an obsession for all
of our problems. he was a pollyanna about everything. his expectations always outran reality. little understanding for man's capacity of evil and he have no tragic sense whatsoever no sense of people being constrained by circumstances over which they have little or no control. this is amazing i think because it given the given the fact that he was a slaveholder he claims he could do nothing about it. jefferson thought that the educated american electric would choose as its leaders only natural arista cats.
the world was getting better becoming freer more democratic and that the new republic of the united states have a special role to play in a fulfilling that future. america he said was a chosen country and the world's best hope is jefferson who invented the idea of american exceptionalism. he became a true believer in all of the republican resolutions that he hoped would spread everywhere in the world. it was worth he said all of the bloodshed in all of the lives lost in its name if only adam and eve were left alive but left free hero in 1790 freight -- 1793 would be it would be better than it is now. the federalist john adams did
not share these views at all. the most conservative president we have ever had. the book called the conservative mind but adams was anything but a ronald reagan type conservative. he was pessimistic about the future and the severe critic of the conception of american exceptionalism. over and over that america was no different than other countries they were just as vicious just as corrupt as other nations. he was the ultimate realist
committed to what he called stubborn facts. he challenged every american dream and myth. very un-american view he did not know about jeans and dna of course. he was convinced that nature not nurture mattered most. and had babies who were only four days old. other smart. they were all born to equal rights. but very different fortunes it
was inherently unequal. the elites he did not use that term. in a republican america. it would not be the best and wisest man more apt to be the richest and most attractive. the most ambitious adams did not disparage big government but he did fear the unrestrained power of government. in the most profound statement he ever made declared that power was never to be trusted without a check. in the virtue of the american people. he was willing to borrow some
the elements of the monarchy to offset the populism. he was a great admirer of being those constitution. still a republic in his mind. he have difficulty relating his ideas to his fellow americans. most of them cannot understand what they meant. sooner or later the american elections would become so partisan and so corrupt that we would have to turn to get those first. they would follow the example. has it come to that, do you think.
there were bonds of friendship that made their reconciliation possible. in 1812 as the partisan passions tended to fade the earlier friendship was restored almost entirely's through benjamin rush. over the next 14 years adams and jefferson exchanged over 150 letters at one point they ask a jefferson and jefferson and how many letters you get in a year. i think a around 2000 or something. he received only about 200. we have to understand that
jefferson was an international celebrity. and other great men throughout europe. jefferson however i think made their reconciliation possible. his aversion to any sort of conversation. it saved the relationship. although james madison was the closest fred cannot understand what jefferson saw and adams. the rigorous honesty. they claimed that once you broke through the crusty service is warm and amiable as a person could be. they tolerated better than most the facetious and teasing manner.
he loved to razz. in 1815 napoleon has been defeated adams cannot help ripping jefferson. jefferson polite as all suffered all of this in good humor. the two men valued their correspondence too much to endanger it. and they tended to avoid controversial subject. but they never explored it too deeply. the two men came to realize that they both equally and deeply loved their country. they'd always been polite to one another when they were
face-to-face. they never said anything directly to another. it made that reconciliation possible. they knew that combination and that realization i think was enough to sustain the revival of their friendship. the number of letters he received compared to jefferson's suggested that. he always knew that he would never have the acclaim from the federal and they would continue to have. they may have been honest and realistic telling us americans what we need to know truths about ourselves that are difficult and if not impossible to bear however true and correct.
they were incapable of inspiring and sustaining the united states or any nation for that matter adams even doubted whether american -- america could be a real nation. the fatherland of the dutch all he saw in america was at pauline diversity and diversity of ethnicities in 1813 they encountered at least 19 different religious sects in the country. of english, irish is difficult to give a name into the country characteristic of a people. by contrast jefferson's ideas and statements could and did
inspire and nourish the diverse people of the united states. of the naïve optimism. they offered the fellow americans. it has carried all of us through our many deals. the most prominent journalists of the early 19th century new the importance of jefferson he wanted to help establish a national character for americans and despite the victory over britain in the war of 1812 eliminated those old english habits of mind was essential to establishing that character. if we were to have a new nation. a public appeal we needed a new principles and new ideas and new ideas -- and new ways
of thinking. not less important and the consequences than that of 1776 a shaking off of the fetters of the mind to do this niles said we must begin with the establishment of first principles which were best found in the declaration of independence. it should be the basis of all the rest the common reference in cases of doubt and difficulty. now abraham lincoln probably never saw niles appeal to jefferson but he have the same insight. in 1858 when he said all honor to jefferson he paid homage to the one founder who he knew could explain why the breaking up of the union cannot be tolerated and why so many
lives have to be sacrificed to maintain that union. lincoln and knew what the revolution had been about and what it implied not just for americans but for all humanity because jefferson had told him so. the united states said lincoln it was the last best hope because he said this all in the context of the failure of the revolution of 1848. they have all failed. every one of them. so when lincoln talks about the last best hope. he's talking in that context. conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. half of the american people said lincoln in 1858 had no direct blood connection to the founders of the nation these
german irish, french and scandinavian citizens he said either have come from europe themselves or their ancestors have and he said they have failed in america finding that equals in all things. although they may not had had no actual connection and blood. that can make them feel part of the rest of the nation they have that old declaration of independence this moral principle which was apical to all men and all times made all of these different people one with the founders and that he goes on to an extra extranet image that just boggles my mind and i'm quoting him here. as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh.
you want to write we have the fascination with the founders lincoln is telling us why. this emphasis of liberty and equality. was the electric cord that links the hearts of patriotic men and women together that will link these hearts as long as the love of freedom exists. lincoln could never have evoked adams on behalf of his cause. they were too honorary and too realistic if you well. two contrary to offer any such support for americans. how the great variety of individuals in america with all the different ethnicities. could be brought together into one nation.
as lincoln grasp better than anyone they are a set of beliefs that are truly generations they hold together the most diverse nation the world has ever known since now the whole world is in the united states nothing but jefferson's ideas can turn such an assortment of different people into the one people that the declarations as we are. to believe in something and that something is what jefferson declared. that's why we honor jefferson and not adams. [applause]. [applause].
i'll be happy to answer questions. jefferson adams both died at the same day. the date was so important to each of them. there is no doubt that they were aware of the great importance of that date and they struggled to stay alive long enough. he hung on a little bit longer. adams woke up on the fourth and ask them. there are various stories about each of them. they could let go.
however, still given that taking on and reach that. we are well aware of the significance of what they are doing. jefferson had died five hours earlier. in a larger sense he was quite right. jefferson survived in a way that adams did them. and for the reasons i had suggested. adams has never been able to fulfill that kind of a role that jefferson has played for us. he was not saying anything original.
that was a fundamental it was adams who is out of culture with the common assumptions in the late 18th century. everybody believed the differences are due to environment. others thought that black africans have been done that even more. it is a really environmental notion that most people have at the time. the differences in people. >> is it true that they have that government.
he was very admiring of that constitution. there were some people who thought that this order was so great in the 80s that we would have to have that. inviting one of the brothers of the english throne. that never went anywhere. adam certainly never did. but he was concerned that we would probably had to adopt some of the attributes of the english monarchy. sooner or later in the cards. when they were published and
republished in 1805 he had written them in 91 the french revolution breaking out it was not concluded in charles francis adams. in the middle of the 19th century. it was very much on the minds of jefferson and other radicals. jefferson was appalled at adam's suggestion suggested that we would have hereditary president and senate. that he never did. why was alexander hamilton the thorn in the side.
jefferson would clearly dislike that. make the united states into a fiscal military state within four or five decades they could take on the european powers. on their own terms. we would have a powerful army and navy. would have all of the constituents of a modern european type estate that was simply the opposite of what jefferson wanted. he wanted to remain in the
agricultural state without any of the attributes of a modern state. this is a miracle of the age. off the northwest coast of europe with a population about a third or less of france have become the greatest power in the world and probably the greatest power ever. it was because they have a banking system and a stock market and most importantly ability of the government to extract money from its people without impoverishing them. the french cannot do that. the french were impoverishing themselves in the government. this is what hamilton was copied.
although he did not like armies. he liked navies but what he didn't like was the weight hamilton was maneuvering to oust him from being president. hamilton just didn't like that. he thought hamilton was a little bit crazy. he kept working to get some other kind of federalist. they were attacking adams as being childish, silly temperamentally unequipped to become president and adams ever forgive him for that. hamilton was not there
either. it was supposed to be private for only the federalist to read. and he ends up saying vote for adams anyhow. it's not clear what hamilton was saying. it was a very important time in our history. it was a very critical time. except for the actual civil war. and it was a frightening time people thought the french were going to invade. and setting up puppet republic the very republican french puppets in italy and germany. many people thought they were to come to the united states and invade. all of the republican it was a time to help explain the act. particularly abigail.
i was not really into that but he is wrong about that. she was a very critical time the antagonism between the federalists in the republicans we think we have partisan feelings anti- passion but nothing compared to what they have there. and neither one accepted the legitimacy of the other. it was a very serious moment in history. it seems to bring those two men together. i'm wondering about today. 325million people in our country to political parties moving in. in different directions.
it seems to me they found the common idea to pull themselves together. and in base ended base -- embrace their friendship. i don't see that idea among the leaders today. it seems that we are very divided. not as divided as we were in 1798 i guess i'm optimistic and think we will muddle through somehow but it is true we just had two parties trying to express but that is a nation that mac the nature of our political system.
it's very difficult for third parties to arise. we probably should have a multiparty system like maybe the european states that would lead to many more compromises. we don't have any of that. it's difficult for our politics to express the kind of real diversity of opinions that we have. there is no center at all. there is no structural incentive to collaborate. their efforts being made. and maybe wiser heads will prevail. i think we will muddle through.
it is a trying time i would admit. i have no expertise in this. you know about the situation. what history does give you is a sense of perspective and a realization that things had been bad before they really were bad and 61. in 1861 when we have a civil war. i don't think we are in any danger of that. any other questions. good, thank you. [applause].
[indiscernible] he didn't know henry clay very well. give me an example. they came into the congress around the time of the war of 1812. i don't think john adams was there. they did have a little bargain. they can become president and clay became secretary of state. and they never recovered from that. his administration was always
attainted. but tv has covered many presidential biographies. clint -- tends wife and herbert hoover in the white house. if presidential history is a topic that interests you visit book tv.org. and search presidential biography books. you're watching a book tv on c-span two. television for serious readers.
with a focus on a stall and leadership. and the soviet union in the years leading up to world war ii. then at 740. the former democratic national chair. with the wake of the hashing of the dnc. publisher and editor robert kendall examine the pros and cons of populism today. women's march on washington cochair. reflects on the 2,017th of march and what's ahead for the movement. she is interviewed by heather mcgee president of demos and demos action. and we wrap up our prime time programming at 11:00 p.m. with author that'll happen tonight on the c-span to book tv. forty-eight hours of nonfiction authors in books every weekend.
television for serious readers. here is a look at some of the current best selling books according to indy bound a group of independent bookstores topping the list fire and fury the exposé of the trump white house. followed by walter isaacson's. and then mary beard looks at how history has treated powerful women and women in power. with a collection of essays. the last black unicorn. next on the list is followed
by investor and entrepreneur economic device. and wrapping up a look at some of the books from indy bound nonfiction best-selling list. most of these authors have appeared on the book tv you can watch them on a website. this weekend the city to her takes you to newport rhode island. the rich literary life. the nations oldest working library.
on the book american mojo. and the shrinking middle class. the middle class has been the centerpiece. it has become our central nervous system. the whole rest of the economy prospers and when it doesn't what it tends to do is create sort of a barbell effect. if you people get really rich. on sunday at 2:00 p.m. here about newport's history as a largest slave trading port in north america. settled in 1639. not only among the most after -- active courts between 1705 and 1805.
they were responsible for nearly a thousand slaving voyages. they transported about a hundred thousand africans back to the new world. sunday at 2:00 p.m. on it c-span three. working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. if we could silence the cell phones. you can give us the e-mail address there.